Flucht (Flight) , 1931, Collage, 9 1/10 × 7 1/5 in
Cut with the Dada Kitchen Knife through the Last Weimar Beer-Belly Cultural Epoch in Germany, 1919
Janine Antoni was born in Freeport, Bahamas. She received her BA from Sarah Lawrence College in New York, and earned her MFA from the Rhode Island School of Design in 1989.
Her work shows nationally and internationally. Antoni has exhibited at numerous major institutions including the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Museum of Modern Art, New York; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; The Mattress Factory, Pittsburgh; the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, DC; The Reina Sofia, Madrid, Spain; The Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin; Magazsin 3 Handelshögskolan, Stockholm; Haywood Gallery, London, Sammlung Goetz, Munich, Germany. She has also been represented in several international biennials such as the Whitney Biennial; Venice Bienialle; Johannesburg Biennial; Kwangju Biennial, South Korea; Istanbul Biennial; S.I.T.E. Santa Fe Biennial: Project 1 Biennial, New Orleans; and Kochi-Muziris Biennale, India.
Antoni is the recipient of several prestigious awards including a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Fellowship in 1998, the New Media Award, ICA Boston in 1999, the Larry Aldrich Foundation Award in 1999, an Artes Mundi, Wales International Visual Art Prize nomination in 2004, The John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship in 2011, a 2012 Creative Capital Artist Grant, Anonymous Was A Woman Grant in 2014, and A Project Grant from The Pew Center for Arts and Heritage to collaborate with choreographers Anna Halprin and Stephen Petronio at the Fabric Workshop and Museum, Philadelphia for a 2016 exhibition. She currently resides in New York City.
Selected public collections include MoMA, New York, NY; The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; The Israel Museum, Jerusalem, Israel; Guggenheim Museum, New York, NY; The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, CA; Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington DC; Magasin 3 Stockholm Konsthall, Stockholm, Sweden; Sammlung Goetz, Munich, Germany; The New Museum, New York, NY; Astrup Fearnley Museet for Moderne Kunst, Oslo, Norway; and The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, CA.
Monographs and publications of Antoni’s work include MOOR published by Magasin 3 Stockholm Konsthall and SITE Santa Fe; The Girl Made of Butter published by The Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art, Ridgefield, Connecticut; and JANINE ANTONI published by Ink Tree Edition, Küsnacht, Switzerland.
Installation materials used in this section of the rope are:
Dad’s coconut husks, Joe’s blue pants, Rosary beads found
with Doug, Doug’s grandmother’s dish towel, Elizabeth’s
grandmother’s blue and white striped apron, Mom’s fall and
hairnet, Grandmother Gugu’s slip, Red velour Christmas
dress worn by Granny Miana
Currently 326.9 feet (99.63 meters)
My current work, The Pink and Blue Projects are the topic of my thesis. This project explores the trends in cultural preferences and the differences in the tastes of children (and their parents) from diverse cultures, ethnic groups as well as gender socialization and identity. The work also raises other issues, such as the relationship between gender and consumerism, urbanization, the globalization of consumerism and the new capitalism.
The Pink and Blue Projects were initiated by my five-year-old daughter, who loves the color pink so much that she wanted to wear only pink clothes and play with only pink toys and objects. I discovered that my daughter’s case was not unusual. In the United States, South Korea and elsewhere, most young girls love pink clothing, accessories and toys. This phenomenon is widespread among children of various ethnic groups regardless of their cultural backgrounds. Perhaps it is the influence of pervasive commercial advertisements aimed at little girls and their parents, such as the universally popular Barbie and Hello Kitty merchandise that has developed into a modern trend. Girls train subconsciously and unconsciously to wear the color pink in order to look feminine.
Pink was once a color associated with masculinity, considered to be a watered down red and held the power associated with that color. In 1914, The Sunday Sentinel, an American newspaper, advised mothers to “use pink for the boy and blue for the girl, if you are a follower of convention.” The change to pink for girls and blue for boys happened in America and elsewhere only after World War II. As modern society entered twentieth century political correctness, the concept of gender equality emerged and, as a result, reversed the perspective on the colors associated with each gender as well as the superficial connections that attached to them . Today, with the effects of advertising on consumer preferences, these color customs are a worldwide standard.
The saccharine, confectionary pink objects that fill my images of little girls and their accessories reveal a pervasive and culturally manipulated expression of femininity” and a desire to be seen. To make these images, I arrange and display the cotton – candy colored belongings of several children in their rooms. When I began producing the pink images, I became aware of the fact that many boys have a lot of blue possessions. Customers are directed to buy blue items for boys and pink for girls. In the case of my eleven-year-old son, even though he does not seem to particularly like the color blue over other colors, whenever we shop for his clothes, the clothes he chooses are from the many-hued blue selection. The clothes and toy sections for children are already divided into pinks for girls and blues for boys. Their accessories and toys follow suit.
The differences between girls’ objects and boys’ objects are also divided and affect their thinking and behavioral patterns. Many toys and books for girls are pink, purple, or red, and are related to make up, dress up, cooking, and domestic affairs. However, most toys and books for boys are made from the different shades of blue and ? are related to robots, industry, science, dinosaurs, etc. This is a phenomenon as intense as the Barbie craze. Manufacturers produce anthropomorphic ponies that have the characteristics of young girls. They have barrettes, combs and accessories, and the girls adorn and make up the ponies. These kinds of divided guidelines for the two genders deeply affect children’s gender group identification and social learning.
As girls grow older, their taste for pink changes. Until about 2nd grade, they are very obsessed with the color pink, but around 3rd or 4th grade, they do not obsess with pink as much anymore. Usually, their tastes change to purple. Later, there is another shift. However, the original association with the color-code often remains.
Sandro Miller, Diane Arbus / Identical Twins, Roselle, New Jersey (1967), 2014
From the Malkovich, Malkovich, Malkovich – Homage to photographic masters series
16 x 15″ pigment print
Edition of 35 + 5 AP’s
Sandro Miller, Dorothea Lange / Migrant Mother, Nipomo, California (1936), 2014
From the Malkovich, Malkovich, Malkovich – Homage to photographic masters series
12 x 9¼” pigment print
Edition of 35 + 5 AP’s
Sandro Miller, Pierre et Gilles / Jean Paul Gaultier (1990), 2014
From the Malkovich, Malkovich, Malkovich – Homage to photographic masters series
20 x 16″ and 40 x 30¾” pigment print
Total edition of 35 + 5 AP’s
In a sense, my work is haunted by space, actual and metaphorical, remembered and constructed. My photographs grew out of the need I felt to document actual spaces, especially the space of my childhood. At a certain point, I realized that in order to go forward as an artist, it was necessary to return physically to my childhood home in Morocco and to document this world which I had left in a physical sense, but of course, never fully in any deeper, more psychological sense. In order to understand the woman I had become, I needed to re-encounter the child I once was. I needed to return to the culture of my childhood if I wanted to understand my unfolding relation to the “converging territories” of my present life. This culture, and the space of my childhood within it, was defined for me by specific domestic spaces, ones that still exist, but are in the process of slowly deteriorating. So I embarked on a project to photograph these physical spaces before they were lost, and in doing so, to see the role they played in shaping the metaphorical space of my childhood.
It is obvious that while my photographs are expressions of my own personal history, they can also be taken as reflections on the life of Arab women in general. There are continuities, of course, within Arab culture, but I am uncomfortable thinking of myself as a representative of all Arab women. Art can only come from the heart of an individual artist, and I am much too aware of the range of traditions and laws among the different Arab nations to presume to speak for everyone. My work documents my own experience growing up as an Arab woman within Islamic culture seen now from a very different perspective. It is the story of my quest to find my own voice, the unique voice of an artist, not an attempt to present myself as a victim, which would deprive me of the very complexity I wish to express.
These photographs have led me to a greater understanding of the importance of architectural space in Islamic culture. Traditionally, the presence of men has defined public spaces: the streets, the meeting places, the places of work. Women, on the other hand, have been confined to private spaces, the architecture of the home. Physical thresholds define cultural ones, hidden hierarchies dictate patterns of habitation. Thus crossing a permissible, cultural threshold into prohibited “space” in the metaphorical sense, can result in literal confinement in an actual space. Many Arab women today may feel the space of confinement to be a more psychological one, but its origins are, I think, embedded in architecture itself. In my photographs, I am constraining the women within space and also confining them to their “proper” place, a place bounded by walls and controlled by men. The henna painted on their bodies corresponds to the elaborate pattern of the tiles. The women then, become literal odalisques (odalisque, from the Turkish, means to belong to a place).
But my work reaches beyond Islamic culture to invoke the Western fascination, as expressed in painting, with the odalisque, the veil, and, of course, the harem. Here is another way in which my work cannot be read simply as a critique of Arab culture. Images of the harem and the odalisque still penetrate the present and I use the Arab female body to disrupt that tradition. I want the viewer to become aware of Orientalism as a projection of the sexual fantasies of Western male artists––in other words as a voyeuristic tradition.
It is not only the West that has been prevented from seeing Arab culture accurately. How people in the Arab world see themselves has also been affected by the distorted lens of Orientalism. There is some evidence that the Orientalist perspective has had an impact on the actual lives of Arab men and women, and especially that the rules for Arab women became much stricter as a result of Western influence. When the West portrays Eastern women as sexual victims and Eastern men as depraved, the effect is to emasculate Eastern men, and to challenge the traditional values of honor and family. So Arab men feel the need to be even more protective of Arab women, preventing them from being targets of fantasy by veiling them. The veil protects them from the gaze of Orientalism. While we’ll probably never know whether the return to the veil and the rules that accompany it is a response to Western influence or merely coincidental, it is hard to believe there is no relationship. In a sense what the West did was to erase the boundaries of public and private; in part the Arab world responded by re-instating those boundaries in a way that would be clear and visible. Within the veil, an Arab woman has a private space.
I want to stress that I do not intend my work simply as a critique of either culture, Arab or Western. I am going further than mere critique to a more active, even subversive, engagement with cultural patterns, in order to get beyond stereotypes and convey my own experience as an Arab woman. In employing calligraphic writing, I am practicing a sacred Islamic art that is usually inaccessible to women. To apply this writing in henna, an adornment worn and applied only by women, adds a further subversive twist. Thus the henna/calligraphy can be seen as both a veil and as an expressive statement. Yet the two are not so much in opposition as interwoven. The “veil” of decoration and concealment has not been rejected but instead has been integrated with the expressive intention of calligraphy. Although it is calligraphy that is usually associated with “meaning” (as opposed to “mere” decoration), in the visual medium of my photographs, the “veil” of henna in fact enhances the expressivity of the images.
By the same token, the male art of calligraphy has been brought into a world of female experience from which it has traditionally been excluded. Also, by choosing to use a number of women, I subvert their imposed silence. These women “speak” through the language of femininity to each other and to the house of their confinement, just as my photographs have enabled me to speak. Through these images I am able to suggest the complexity of Arab female identity – as I have known it–and the tension between hierarchy and fluidity at the heart of Arab culture.
By reclaiming the rich tradition of calligraphy and interweaving it with the traditionally female art of henna, I have been able to express, and yet, in another sense, dissolve the contradictions I have encountered in my culture: between hierarchy and fluidity, between public and private space, between the richness and the confining aspects of Islamic traditions.
As an artist now living in the West, I have become aware of another space, besides the house of my girlhood, an interior space, one of “converging territories.” I will always carry that house within me, but my current life has added other dimensions. There is the very different space I inhabit in the West, a space of independence and mobility. It is from there that I can return to the landscape of my childhood in Morocco, and consider these spaces with detachment and new understanding. When I look at these spaces now, I see the two cultures that have shaped me and which are distorted when looked at through the “Orientalist” lens of the West. This new perspective has led me in my most recent photographs to situate my subjects in a non-specific space, one which no longer identifies itself as a particular house in Morocco, but rather the multivalent space of their/HER own imagination and making. In these images, the text is partly autobiographical. Here I speak of my thoughts and experiences directly, both as a woman caught somewhere between past and present, as well as between “East” and “West,” and also as an artist, exploring the language in which to “speak” from this uncertain space. But in the absence of any specificity of place, the text itself becomes the world of the subjects – their thoughts, speech, work, clothing, shelter, and nomadic home. This text is of course incomplete. It involves the viewer as well as the writer in a continual process of reading and revising, of losing and finding its multiple and discontinuous threads. Similarly, figures of the women in the photographs can only be gathered and informed by multiple visual readings. As you can see, the Orientalist tradition is more directly called forth, and played with, in my most recent photographs than in earlier ones. But again, this is only a matter of emphasis, yet another layer in the palimpsest of readings I hope to evoke in the viewer. Ultimately, I wish for my work to be as vividly present and yet as elusive as “woman” herself — not simply because she is veiled or turns away – but because she is still in progress.
Lalla A. Essaydi grew up in Morocco and now lives in USA where she received her MFA from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts/TUFTS University in May 2003. Essaydi’s work is represented by Howard Yezerski Gallery in Boston and Edwynn Houk Gallery in New York City. Her work has been exhibited in many major international locales, including Boston, Chicago, Minneapolis, Texas, Buffalo, Colorado, New York, Syria, Ireland, England, France, the Netherlands, Sharjah, U.A.E., and Japan and is represented in a number of collections, including the Williams College Museum of Art, The Art Institute of Chicago, the Fries Museum, the Netherlands, and The Kodak Museum of Art. Her art, which often combines Islamic calligraphy with representations of the female body, addresses the complex reality of Arab female identity from the unique perspective of personal experience. In much of her work, she returns to her Moroccan girlhood, looking back on it as an adult woman caught somewhere between past and present, and as an artist, exploring the language in which to “speak” from this uncertain space. Her paintings often appropriate Orientalist imagery from the Western painting tradition, thereby inviting viewers to reconsider the Orientalist mythology. She has worked in numerous media, including painting, video, film, installation, and analog photography.
“In my art, I wish to present myself through multiple lenses — as artist, as Moroccan, as traditionalist, as Liberal, as Muslim. In short, I invite viewers to resist stereotypes.”
French sculptor, photographer, painter and film maker. Self-taught, he began painting in 1958 but first came to public attention in the late 1960s with short avant-garde films and with the publication of notebooks in which he came to terms with his childhood. The combination in these works of real and fictional evidence of his and other people’s existence remained central to his later art. As well as presenting assemblages of documentary photographs wrenched from their original context, in the 1970s he also experimented inventively with the production of objects made of clay and from unusual materials such as sugar and gauze dressings. These works, some of them entitled Attempt at Reconstitution of Objects that Belonged to Christian Boltanski between 1948 and 1954 (1970–71; see 1990 exh. cat., p. 11), again included flashbacks to segments of time and life that blurred memory with invention.
In the 1970s photography became Boltanski’s favoured medium for exploring forms of remembering and consciousness, reconstructed in pictorial terms. After 1976 he handled the medium as if it were painting, photographing slices of nature and carefully arranged still-lifes of banal everyday objects in order to convert them into grid compositions that reflected the collective aesthetic condition of contemporary civilization in a stereotyped way. In the early 1980s Boltanski ceased using objets trouvés as a point of departure. Instead he produced ‘theatrical compositions’ by fashioning small marionette-like figures from cardboard, scraps of materials, thread and cork, painted in colour and transposed photographically into large picture formats. These led to kinetic installations in which a strong light focused on figurative shapes helped create a mysterious environment of silhouettes in movement (e.g. The Shadows, 1984; see 1990 exh. cat., p. 20).
In 1986 Boltanski began making installations from a variety of materials and media, with light effects as integral components. Some of these consisted of tin boxes stacked in an altar-like construction with a framed portrait photograph on top, for example the Chases School (1986–7; Ghent, Mus. Hedendaag. Kst). Such assemblages of objects again relate to the principle of reconstruction of the past. Such works, for which he used portrait photographs of Jewish schoolchildren taken in Vienna in 1931, serve as a forceful reminder of the mass murder of Jews by the Nazis. In the works that followed, such as Reserve (exh. Basle, Mus. Gegenwartskst, 1989), Boltanski filled whole rooms and corridors with items of worn clothing as a way of prompting an involuntary association with the clothing depots at concentration camps. As in his previous work, objects thus serve as mute testimony to human experience and suffering.
From Grove Art Online
© 2009 Oxford University Press
Catherine Opie was born in Sandusky, Ohio in 1961. Opie investigates the ways in which photographs both document and give voice to social phenomena in America today, registering people’s attitudes and relationships to themselves and others, and the ways in which they occupy the landscape. At the core of her investigations are perplexing questions about relationships to community, which she explores on multiple levels across all her bodies of work. Working between conceptual and documentary approaches to image making, Opie examines familiar genres—portraiture, landscape, and studio photography—in surprising uses of serial images, unexpected compositions, and the pursuit of radically different subject matters in parallel. Many of her works capture the expression of individual identity through groups (couples, teams, crowds) and reveal an undercurrent of her own biography vis-à-vis her subjects. Whether documenting political movements, queer subcultures, or urban transformation, Opie’s images of contemporary life comprise a portrait of our time in America, which she often considers in relation to a discourse of opposition. Her work resonates with formal ideas that convey the importance of “the way things should look,” evidence of the influence of her early exposure to the history of art and painting. Catherine Opie received a BFA from the San Francisco Art Institute (1985), an MFA from CalArts (1988), and since 2001 has taught at the University of California, Los Angeles. She has received many awards, including the President’s Award for Lifetime Achievement from the Women’s Caucus for Art (2009); United States Artists Fellowship (2006); Larry Aldrich Award (2004); and the CalArts Alpert Award in the Arts (2003). Her work has appeared in major exhibitions at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston (2011); Los Angeles County Museum of Art (2010); Guggenheim Museum, New York (2008); MCA Chicago (2006); and the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis (2002). Catherine Opie lives and works in Los Angeles, California.